Quality Measures Need Measures of Quality

An article titled “Quality Measures Need Measures of Quality” appears in the 2016 Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, issue 74, pp. 1101-1102, and written by Thomas Dodson. The article discusses how nowadays doctors have a lot more access to information thanks to the information technology revolution. He discusses HIPAA and electronic medical records (EMRs).

The author states

“EMRs were introduced—we were promised—to make patient information portable and to improve communication between providers, thus improving patient safety and quality of care. In truth, these were secondary intentions, the first and overriding being Medicare’s (now CMS’) need to provide comparable data across institutions in order to control costs and monitor utilization.”

In the article he talks about compliance with data capture and automation and how with quality measures oral surgeons are not much farther now than in 1984. Measures of quality, outcome, and value (outcomes relative to costs) have been difficult to identify. He talks about how AAOMS, sponsored a practice-based research collaboration in 2012 to collect OMS-specific data in order to establish ‘‘benchmarks’’ that could be used by the membership to measure ‘‘quality.

It is stated that with all the regulations, process measures, investments in technology, and hours of commitment by doctors and their staff, it is important to remember that quality not yet been defined. Absent a definition we cannot measure, monitor, or assure ‘‘quality.’’ The author support EMR as it offers the creation of data that can be mined to answer patient-oriented research questions. However he does not want clinicians to turn into data entry clerks.

The author feels that EMRs are the key to a better health system and has written numerous research papers taking advantage of the data from them.

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